Some Frequently Asked Questions and Terms of Business

Here I have given  answers to some Frequently Asked Questions. There are probably a lot more questions! If you have any please e mail me, contact me through the Contact Me form or raise your query during any initial free consultaion we have.

Please read these FAQs carefully. In particular please note the last four questions and answers. Unless agreed between us and varied in writing the facts and matters set out below form the basis of the agreement between the client and Christine Wibberley:Trace Your Ancestry in relation to any research work carried out.

Q. How much will your services cost?

A. Every project is unique All  requests are assessed and a budget and timescale arrived at on the basis of an hourly rate depending on the type of work.

To give an idea of costs of tracing your ancestors then depending on the amount of detail required to reseach and prepare a report on one line of your ancestry, that is maternal or paternal, from yourself to people born in around the mid nineteenth century usually costs from around  £400 to £500, though that is an estimate only.


Q. Do you charge by results?

A. All work is charged by the time spent, irrespective of outcome


Q. Are certificates of Birth, Death or Marriage always needed?

A. Not every certificate for every ancestor is always needed to construct a genealogically sound line, though professional opinions differ as to whether the purchase of all three certificates for every person is neccessary. That is because frequently information can be obtained from the indexes of the General Register Office. This may include information as to who is likely to have married whom. However the indexes of the General Register Office do contain errors and additionally the certificates will always give far more information than an index. A birth certificate is often absolutely neccessary to establish parentage. However since November 2016 this has been made easier because the GRO has updated its indexes to show the mother's maiden surname. Additionally certificates of births marriages and death can give variable useful information about places events and people, their occupations and ages. Clients should note that it is possible despite taking all due care to obtain an incorrect certificate, that is one which does not relate to the person being researched. That may arise because a surname, or combination of forename and surname, is common. That is part of the research process.

When ordering certificates I exercise all reasonable care to obtain the correct one. However because of the limited information in the indexes (though these have now been updated by the GRO) occasionally an incorrect certificate is obtained If this occurs it is part of the nature of the research process. I cannot be expected to pay for a further certificate being obtained and I am not, of course, responsible for errors in the indexes themselves. 


Q. What time is chargeable?

A. All time spent furthering the project, within budgets and time estimates previously agreed with you, is chargeable. This might be examining records and documents, preparing the tree and report and any other time spent furthering the project.  It is important to understand that time is chargeable whether or not there is a positive result to the search or research.


Q. What if it appears that the original aim of my project cannot be fulfilled after I have instructed you?

A. If it becomes clear that the anticipated line of enquiry is likely to prove fruitless then I will inform you as soon as practicable.


Q. What about ancestors born before the nineteenth century and even earlier? I have heard of people who can trace their ancestors back a very long way.

A. Sometimes eighteenth century ancestors can be traced quite easily. An ancestor with an exceptionally long life could have been born in 1770 and appear in the 1861 census. Some Parishes preserved their records well while others may have been put in a damp chest. Beware of research making claims of distant ancestors unupported by proper records!


Q. What are my chances of finding ancestors before the end of the eighteenth century?

A. That depends on several factors. These include how well local records were kept and have since been preserved, whether your ancestors owned land, paid taxes made wills, were descended from the nobility, were non conformist in their religion, did anything noteworthy or newsworthy, wrote letters and kept diaries or family bibles. Your chances of finding a literate wealthy land owning ancestor born in the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries is far more likely than finding an illiterate agricultural labourer who regularly attended his Parish Church. However if your ancestor  fell on very hard times, claimed parish relief or even died in a workhouse then the chances of him or her being found again increase.


Q. If a line of enquiry fails from online research is that the end of the search?

A. Not necessarily. In some cases I can suggest alternative lines of enquiry in which case I will give a new estimate or fee quotation. In cases involving myStarter Package I may be able to suggest other lines of enquiry or records which might be expected to provide results. 


Q. Why might an ancestor be untraceable?

A. It could happen for all sorts of reasons. For example an ancestor may have been illegitimate and no note made of his father’s name on his birth record. When Civil Registration was first introduced in 1837 registration of births by a parent was not immediately compulsory so a birth might not have been registered. Some people seem to have avoided beeng recorded in records!


Q. Do I have to pay travel expenses?

A. All foreseeable disbursements will be included in the original budget. I will inform you during the course of the research if I think that  particular expenditure might give useful information to further the project. No expense will be incurred without prior approval from you, the client. Travel, which might include travel to visit a cemetery or archive or photograph a building would be chargeable at £15 an hour 


Q. What if you advise looking at a record held many miles from Lancashire?

A. I would not suggest that you pay me to travel to say London! If a record was only available by a visit to a record office at a distance, I would, having ascertained by enquiry that a record was likely to assist, ask another researcher local to the office to attend and provide a copy or abstract of the record. You would be advised of the cost beforehand and the instruction would not proceed without your approval and advance payment of the other researcher's fee.


Q. When do I need to pay you?

A. Before I start work on your project I need, if the agreed costs are £100 or less the whole of the fee I have agreed with you plus the agreed out of pocket expenses in full. If the fee is between £100 and £200 I will need £100 plus agreed anticipated out of pocket expenses and if the fee is £200 or more one half the fees plus agreed out of pocket expenses. If I advise that a particular record is obtained, for example a will and its grant I will normally ask you for the disbursement before I incur it. Please noite that I do reserve the right to require the whole of the anticipated costs of any project before the commencement of work. Please also note that in the event of you changing your mind about the work after payment of the initial deposit the deposit is non-refundable.


Q. Why do you ask for a deposit? 

A. I ask for a deposit as an indication that you are serious about the project and as good business practice. Whilst small disbursements, certificate fees and wills, can sometimes be paid from deposits at my discretion for individual out of pocket expenses exceeding £25 I will always require payment of these before incurring or committing to the expense. In no circumstances will these be paid from deposits.


Q. When is the balance of the cost payable?

A. Within 14 days of my advising you that the report is ready. Please note that no reports details of outcones or copy records will be released without receipt in full of the cleared balance of the fee and expenses, nor will further work be carried out while expenses are outstanding.


[January 2024]

Q. What if I have not paid you within 14 days of you concluding the report and delivering your invoice?

A. You will initially be sent a reminder. I may decline to do further work and if I do agree to further work or may may require you to pay the whole of the likely costs before commencing any further work; alternatively I may decline to carry out the further work.


Q. How do I pay?

A. I accept payment through PayPal, sterling cheque, Bank draft, or by direct payment into my bank account.  PLEASE NOTE that in the case of payments lost by a bank or Paypal which I need to chase I do reserve the right to charge the client for the time wasted.


Q. I know the maximum I can spend on my research project. Can I instruct you on the basis of a costs limit?

A. Certainly. If you wish to enquire how much I might be able to do for a specified amount I would consider with you what work can be done and records obtained to give you the best result within your fixed budget. My report would include details of any limitations which the budget may have imposed. (This can be given separately if, say the report is being prepared as a gift).


Q. Do you only use online records?

A. No. However in respect of people born after 1837 the main tools for researching them are the records of the General Register Office and the censuses of the British Isles which are widely available online and are fortunately indexed.  However once the basic report is available and some information obtained about your ancestors you will be able to see who may be interesting in terms of researching them further and I can advise what records might be available which might add colour and bring your ancestors to life.  Records may exist in archives, papers created by government departments and in particular, in the eighteenth and  nineteenth century, in the records of parishes, at that time the unit of local government. Those records may require attendance at an archive or record office. Unfortunately other documents may be languishing in a local authority or solicitor’s office. Other  documents may be held by you or your relatives, even though you may not realise their significance. However many quite early records are indexed and available digitally online which can avoid the cost of travelling to archives.


Q. I would like you to help me in my search. What do I do now?

A. First think about what it is you would like to achieve. Second get together all the information you, or other amily members already have about the person, place event or family you want to find out about. The information might be birth, death and marriage baptism  confirmation burial certificates, grave deeds, family letters and diaries, a family Bible, or a copy of a certificate in the Bible grandfather was given for regular attendance at Sunday School. Don’t worry if you haven’t got any of those things, your ancestors are still likely to be capable of being found. Your next step is to contact me to discuss the proposed project, which will be without commitment on either side.


Q. How do I contact you?

A, By E-Mail at, through the form at Contact me, by telephone or by post.


Q. What else do you need from me?

A. I will need details of any previous research and the sources used; copies of any documents you have obtained already; a contact postal address (for Inland Revenue purposes, not a box number)


Q. How can I get birth marriage and death certificates?

A. For most events after 1837, in England and Wales, except for events which took place very recently, online at


Q. Is there any project you would decline?

A. I do reserve the right to decline any project without giving a reason. I do not prepare reports which are to be relied on as the basis for a legal claim apart from those decribed in Research and Genealogical Services for Professionals. Subject to that I am happy to discuss any project relating to genealogical, archival , legal or historical research with a view to working with you to achieve the desired outcome.


Q. I have noticed that you are a Member of AGRA. What does this mean?

A. I have submitted details of myself, and Trace Your Ancestry to the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives together with a portfolio of reports I have preapared using various historical and genealogical records.  The  Assessors and Council of AGRA are satisfied as to my competence to practice and I have been accepted as a Member and have agreed to abide by the AGRA code of conduct which can be found on the Association’s website


Q. How does your Membership of this organisation help me?

A. In relation to my Membership of AGRA because my competence to practice has been approved by and expereienced panel of genealogists and also because I have agreed to abide by its code of conduct it means that the work I carry out for you will be carried out in accordance with the code of conduct. I like to think that all my clients will be delighted with the work I produce for them. However disagreements can arise. I would like to think that any disagreement can be resolved satisfactorily between us so any query about the work, or anything arising from it, should be directed to me in the first instance. If the matter cannot be resolved then my clients may take their complaint to  AGRA within the parameters of their codes set out on their website 


Q. What if our agreement could not be resolved as outlined above

A. Were that unfortunately to be the case then the law regulating any contract between myself and my client is that of England and Wales.


Q. Once I have my report can I do what I want with it?

A. Not entirely. You may of course show it to other members of your family and that is, of course, one of the purposes of a report. However I am the author of the report and all reports are the copyright of Christine Wibberley Trace Your Ancestry. Reports may not be published (including publication on a website) in whole or in part without my permission and then only with an acknowledgment of my copyright. They may not be sold to a third party. They may be passed to another researcher to be checked but I would appreciate it if you let me know whether you have any misgivings about my findings. There is no objection to you utilising the research I have carried out and my findings in what may be a larger family history provided I am credited with the original research and the history is not being prepared for commercial sale. 


Q. What if you make a mistake in the preparation of the report?

A. i) If I am satisfied I have made a research mistake, that is I have incorrectly ascribed a relationship, then I will try and put it right! That would usually be by making an allowance for the part of the work where I have agreed a mistake has been made and redoing the work at a reduced charge or no charge, depending upon the circumstances. Please however note that if the mistake has been brought about by a client's failure to provide instructions, or the withholding of a document or information, then no refund will be given. Some findings of genealogical or historical research are matters of opinion. I will always give my opinion honestly with reasons, and another genealogist, or even the client, may not agree with my opinion. That in itself would not be a reason for discounting or re-doing work.

ii) All reports are proof read and spell checked. However mistakes do occur and in the case of typographical, spelling and other errors, for example a repeated word, these will be corrected if brought to my attention within a reasonable time, normally one month from the delivery of the report. Where a report is to be professionally printed it will be sent to the client in draft for approval. Once approved by the client and printed if an error is subsequently found in the document and a reprint is required that would be at the expense of the client.

iii) Style, Grammar and Punctuation. The style of reports is mine and cannot be altered. Where there is a suggested grammatical error brought to my attention please remember that in modern times grammar can be a matter of opinion.  Where I agree there has been a grammatical error I will change it. However in the case of footnotes, endnotes and references and the setting out of information from, for example, parish registers and censuses, these are not, generally in the form of complete sentences. References in footnotes are there as finding aids and arguments as to correct punctuation in these is wasteful of time and costs. References, (sometimes in conjunction with text in the report), will give sufficient information for the original record to be obtained or viewed. That is their purpose. I am not prepared to enter into correspondence in relation to the placing or absence of, for example, a full stop, colon, semi-colon or other punctuation in footnotes and references.

iv) I occasionally receive requests to deliver a report in an editable form, that is in Word format rather than as a PDF. Such requests will rarely if ever be met, because that may lead to reports being produced in my name with alterations as to style and grammar with which I do not agree. This could result in a report, which is very far from being my work, being passed off as my work under my name.


Q. What if I suffer a loss because of any mistake in the report?

A. It is important to note that unless a report has been prepared specifically for the purpose of tracing beneficiaries in the situation of an intestacy or in connection with litigation no liability is accepted for any financial losses arising from the use of genealogical reports prepared by Trace Your Ancestry. Whilst family history reports represent serious historical research and I aim to be accurate in their preparation they are not, unless that is agreed, prepared for the purpose of furthering any legal claims. Any compensation for any error by me is strictly limited to the amount actually paid by you for the research up to the total cost of the research.


Q. Are there circumstances when you might cease acting for me during the research process.

A. Whilst I would hope this would never happen please note that I do not tolerate rudeness or abuse. I will also not countenance repeated requests for information to be given piecemeal during the course of my research e.g. If you repeatedly requested details of all your direct ancestors' occupations at an early stage in the research or contacted me at inappropriate intervals asking for updates then I may decline to carry out further work. I do hope to keep clients up to date with progress and if you feel I have not done so then please let me know. If I decline to act during the research I will report to you on the research undertaken to date and explain why I am ceasing to act. Another reason would be if we had a fundamental difference on the correct way of approaching your research. Any report will be released on payment of any balance of my proper costs and any overpayment refunded.


Q. I have read that you take instructions in connection with the tracing of beneficiaries. So, what's the difference between that and the other research you carry out?

A. Because of the specialised nature of that work I would usually only accept instructions from a Solicitor, Accountant, professional or personal representative seekeing to distribute an estate and different Terms of Business and charging rates would apply to any such work.

Work in connection with tracing living relatives is also carried out on a different basis. If that is your interest please ask for details.


Q. Are there any strings attached to the free initial half hours work or your costs estimate?

A. No, there is no charge for my time so spent. Please note however that if, for example, you have sent me original or other documents in connection with my giving an estimate and you require them to be returned other than by ordinary first class pre paid post, or if the documents are bulky then I will charge the costs of postage and packaging. If you elect the first class pre-paid post alternative then documents will be sent at your risk. Regrettably I cannot hold documents indefinitely so if the postages or carriage costs have not been paid within 6 months of the conclusion of the research having been requested I will have no alternative but to confidentially destroy the documents. If documents are valuable to you please send scans or copies rather than originals though I will take care of all documents in my pssession.


Q When is there a binding agreement between us for you to carry out the work?

A. When I have provided an estimate and you have accepted it, provided me with any information which I have requested and you have paid the required deposit. 






I hope you enjoy my site but please note that the site and everything on it, unless specifically stated, including reports and photographs, is the property and copyright of me

Christine Wibberley:

Trace Your Ancestry.

No part of the material is to be used published or copied without permission for any purpose whatsoever.


The site explains the family and other research services of

Trace Your Ancestry. 

It also tells a little about me and my background. 


You may have wondered what your family was like, what the people in it, your ancestors did for a living. What were their names? Were they rich, poor or something in between? Where did they live? Did they get into trouble with the law? 


I can help you find out about some of these things. Most people have acestors with stories to tell as interesting as those on these pages.

For details please go to the

Research Pages

of this site. 

Contact Me for half an hour's free without obligation, consultation.  


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Christine Wibberley LL.B. (Hons)


Solicitor (non practising) 

 Member of AGRA 

Mobile. 07896 611773

(Closed at weekends)

Office hours and availability vary

The office is not available for clients to call in person.




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